Thursday, November 05, 2015

Saving the Rhinos

There are many organizations trying to protect rhinos from poaching. The problem is that rhino horn is used in ancient homeopathic medicines and potions and sell for $300,000 per horn wholesale. It is hard to create costs that exceed this value to unethical poachers. We try with armed guards, strict export controls, and international law enforcement efforts. But it just scratches the surface.

I like some of the newer approaches that target demand.

One group is lacing rhinos with toxins that give humans nausea, vomit, diarrhea, migraines, and more. It doesn’t harm the rhino at all because the horn is isolated. It works so well because you don’t need to treat very many rhinos. As soon as word gets out, people are afraid to buy the powders. If there is no demand, the price plummets and there is no profit in poaching.

Another group is creating fake rhino horn powder and flooding the market. Since rhino powder is just a placebo anyway, the powder would work just as well. But the huge volume of supply makes the price plummet. Also, if you knew that 90% of the rhino powder out there was fake, would you risk spending $7,000 on a single dose of placebo? As much as I like placebos (on both of my blogs), that would even make me hesitate. What are buyers supposed to do, ask their illegal rhino powder provider for an FDA certification of purity?